Carbonear taxes going up
Town reduces mill rate to help lessen burden on taxpayers
Significant increases in property assessments will see most Carbonear taxpayers having to dig deeper this year when they receive their tax bills.
In an effort to help lessen the burden of increased taxes council has reduced its mill rate by 0.5 mills on residential and commercial property. The mill rate has been reduced from 9.75 mills (last year’s rate) down to 9.25 mills. That amounts to $92.50 for every $10,000 worth of property or $925 on a $100,000 property.
In the last property assessments, most properties in Carbonear increased in value by an average of 15 per cent.
While most taxpayers whose property assessments have increased will see an increase on their tax bill, a few will remain the same, while a scattered one may even see a slight decrease, provided there was no change in their assessment.
In bringing down the town’s 2010 budget last Monday, Jan. 25, deputy mayor Ches Ash noted, “effective this year there will be a significant increase in assessed values of residential and commercial properties within our community and throughout the province.”
Deputy mayor Ash, who also chairs the town’s finance committee explained, “even without an increase in our mill rate, there would be a substantial increase in the cost of property taxes for residents and businesses. It was the consensus of council that simply not increasing our mill rates was insufficient and unacceptable. To leave our mill rates unchanged and claim there is no tax increase is to ignore reality.”
In compiling this year’s budget, the deputy mayor said council members were “especially concerned with the effect of the increased property assessments on the cost of property taxes for our citizens, yet we recognized we needed additional revenue for the town.
Ash said council feels “this mill rate reduction is a reasonable and fair response which helps provide for the needs of our town and... gives due consideration to the needs of our residents and business community.”
By making up for this reduction in other ways he said council was able to avoid a budget shortfall for this year and for the next few years. He did not specify what “other ways” council employed to compensate for the reduction.
As required under the Municipalities Act, Carbonear council has delivered a balanced budget of $5,300,008, a record budget for the town of 4,723 people.
Deputy mayor Ash said he was pleased to point out that, “ for this year and for the foreseeable future, there is no shortfall in revenues, no cut in services and no operational deficit.”
Turning briefly to council’s efforts and the town’s progress in reducing its long-term deficit, he reminded council, “in 1999 the town had a deficit of $1.3 million. Since that time, “the town has pursued an aggressive and effective deficit-reduction strategy, and at year end 2008 our deficit was reduced to $ 447,000. We anticipate that our deficit at year end 2009 will be further reduced to approximately $350,000.” While it is yet to be confirmed by the town’s auditor, he expects, “ by year end 2012 our deficit will be eliminated.”
Admitting that balancing this year’s budget was a challenge considering the needs and demands of a growing town, Ash said, “although we enjoy the additional benefits and increased revenues of significant growth and development, we also face increasing demands and expenditures.”
With growth and development comes the need for additional human resources, equipment and infrastructure.
He pointed out council also faces increased costs as they respond to the needs associated with an aging infrastructure; “to the pressing need to upgrade and maintain our roads; to the need for sidewalks, curb and gutter throughout our town and to the need for snow clearing, waste management, recreation and other quality services.”
In recognizing and meeting those needs, the finance committee chairman said council intends “to be fiscally responsible and observe prudent spending practices as we provide for the needs of our town.”
To ensure the town moves forward, expands and develops, he acknowledged council “must be visionary in our approach. We must not allow fiscal caution to stifle our vision, impede our progress or limit our development. We must be creative, assertive and ambitious in our management and administration practices.
In developing its budget, Ash said, “our policy has been to contain our expenditures, trim our costs and maximize our revenue. By so doing we will be fiscally responsible, but we will not be unduly handicapped or constrained in our progress...”
To keep a tight rein on spending, the finance committee chairman promised his committee “will maintain an ongoing analysis and review all spending and expenditures. Budget requests by all departments and groups have been conditionally approved with the stipulation they will be subject to continuing evaluation and subject to revision if deemed advisable or necessary. We must in all departments minimize expenses and be cost efficient.”
Overall the deputy mayor said he feels the budget is “ fair to the residents and businesses and provides for the needs of the town.”